F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone may be in charge of a glamour sport but he's stuck in the dark ages when it comes to promoting equality of the sexes.

Ecclestone has claimed a female driver "would not be taken seriously" in the sport, the Guardian reports.

The Formula One chief executive wants a women's series to start, but says F1 may never see a female racer again.

Italian Lella Lombardi is the last woman to start a Formula One race, the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix, and the chances of a female breakthrough look slim judging by Ecclestone's attitude.

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Ecclestone told Canada's TSN "If there was somebody that was capable they wouldn't be taken seriously anyway, so they would never have a car that is capable of competing. There was a girl that was driving in GP3 for a whole season so it is not something that hasn't happened."

The reporter asked: "But it is not going to happen in the main event?" Ecclestone replied: "No. I don't think so."

Britain's Susie Wolff took part in four practice sessions for Williams but retired last year saying her dream of starting an F1 race would not eventuate. She has just launched a Dare to be Different scheme to increase the number of women involved in motor sport.

Women are still a rare sight in motor sport but are not without their successes.

For example, American Danica Patrick - who raced Formula Ford in the UK during her formative years - is an IndyCar star who won a race in Japan and came third in the Indianapolis 500. Countrywoman Erica Lee Enders-Stevens is a drag racing champion with successive world titles.

Ecclestone's timing is awful, considering that Maria Teresa de Filippis, the first woman to race in F1, died at the age of 89 last week. She had three starts for Maserati in 1958, her 10th in Belgium being the best finish. She was also the honorary president of the F1 retired drivers' club.

Lombardi is the only other woman to have started an F1 race. Lombardi, who died of cancer aged just 50 in 1992, started 12 races from 1974-76.